Wednesday, February 3, 2010


From the official website: Free Aafia dot org

February 3, 2010, New York, NY – The International Justice Network (IJNetwork) represents the family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in the United States. Attorneys from IJNetwork have been monitoring her trial, which began on January 19, and ended with a guilty verdict today in U.S. Federal Court in the Southern District of New York.

"Today marks the close of another sad chapter in the life of our sister, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Today she was unjustly found guilty. Though she was not charged with any terrorism-related offense, Judge Berman permitted the prosecution's witnesses to characterize our sister as a terrorist -- which, based on copious evidence, she clearly is not. Today's verdict is one of many legal errors that allowed the prosecution to build a case against our sister based on hate, rather than fact. We believe that as a result, she was denied a fair trial, and today's verdict must be overturned on appeal."

International Justice Network:

IJN Trial Sumary 2/01/2010
February 1, 2010, New York, NY – International Justice Network attorneys have been monitoring the trial of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, which is expected to end today, in U.S. Federal Court in the Southern District of New York.

Tina M. Foster, Executive Director the International Justice Network , and spokesperson for Muhammad Siddiqui, Aafia’s brother, issued the following statement today on behalf of her U.S.-based family:

After nearly two weeks of proceedings, and more than a dozen different witness testimonies, our sister's trial will finally come to an end today. While the sheer lack of evidence ...We hope that the jury will not be prejudiced by the prosecution's repeated attempts to falsely portray our sister as a terrorist. While on the witness stand last Thursday, Aafia herself told prosecutors "Don't build a case on hate, build a case on facts." We are confident that if the jury considers only the evidence in this case, Aafia will not be convicted of any crime.

This following in NOT officially among he above family statements:

The Siddiqui Trial: Ashes of a Democracy ( By Connie L. Nash)
VERY Rough Draft: suggestions welcome! Still in process

Throughout the trial the usual questions about the case were raised - which writers, reporters and observers somewhat familiar to the case brought with them to Manhattan. The questions were spoken in an undertone in the sunny, busy yet quiet court lunchroom with more lawyers and officials than most of us see in a month. Or maybe these haunting questions were brought up whispered during a break in the trial routine or over coffee at the end of the day.

Two of the biggest enigmas had to do with Siddiqui's marraige and possible after marraige - whether or not to believe what Dr. Siddiqui's ex-husband has spoken to media and rights groups and possibly to government officials too or made some kind of deal or pact -- the guesses as to whether or not Siddiqui married after her divorce to him. The question as to why believe him whom many state emphatically was abusive? Just what did he stand to lose or gain by such "revelations"? And if she didn't disappear in Bagram where to? With whom did she disappear if anyone? A new husband? And if not abused by a husband or an extremist group, than could she have been so deformed by an arm of the government? And if so, to what possible purpose?

Was she all those missing five years in secrets sites? In isolation? That's a long time. Any part of it would be a long time. And what about her beloved children? Two of the three still missing? How would any of us parents be able to bear this? Isn't this torture too?

Findlaw and Human Rights Watch author, Joanne Mariner, said Siddiqui's "ex"earlier testimony to her about events and a prosecution's witness Searcer in the trial, agreed on some points. Fine, but why not ask at the same time, on just whom might this "ex" try to lay his stories were he to try to shift some part of his own mistaken plans? Especially, perhaps, on someone else whom he despised? While parts of Mariner's most recent article were quite helpful, I prefer the thoroughness of her much earlier report on Dr. Siddiqui for Human Rights Watch.

Another big question folk brought with them into this more than two week marathon was: "Why all the secrecy of Siddiqui's family?" Here after the verdict Pakistani-American journalist Ibrahim Sajid Malick may have at least part of the answere when he reported that "Elaine Whitfield Sharp, Dr. Siddiqui's attorney, told reporters outside the Federal Court House in New York Wednesday that government of Pakistan had put a gag order on Dr. Siddiqui’s family as a pre-condition to release her son, Ahmed." Hmmm...I'd heard that the government might be protecting him for his own safety but this is the first I've thought about that angle as related to the secrecy.

And then there were the big questions raised or enlivened by the prosection, the defense and the judge throughout the trial.

One of the big ones that most all media seemed to trip over is to make the assumption that Siddiqui actually HAD the gun temporarily in her possession.

And yet, even before the trial began, one of Siddiqui's lawyers told a pre-trial hearing on the Monday before the first day of trial (Tuesday January 19th) that the defense team rejected this charge since there were no fingerprints or other forensic evidence that she even picked up the gun. “We’re not saying she did it in self-defense. We’re not saying it was an accident. We’re saying she simply did not do it,” This is what Defense attorney, Linda Moreno, told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ahead of Ms. Siddiqui’s trial on January 19.

Throughout the reporting the NYdaily provides the expected sensational art and headlines including this one: 'Lady Al Qaeda' trial: gun instructor remembers Aafia Siddiqui twenty years after training session.

The defense team again did a helluva job cross-examining that alleged gun instructor which any attorney worth their salary who cared would have easily done, I suppose.

And yet even AFTER all that and more, there is still an assumption among many who've been following this case on all sides that it's a given, she had that gun for a few moments anyway.

So I want to bring in a helpful discussion started by an informed lawyer yesterday:

"The simple point, in short, is that there was no forensic evidence linking her to the attempted murder (no fingerprints on the weapon, no bullet holes (from the gun in question at least) in the room in Ghazni, no bullets recovered from the M-4 rifle she is supposed to have (grabbed and) shot, no gunpowder residue--just the testimony of military 'witnesses'. The trouble, of course, was that the defense found itself in the impossible position of trying to convince an American jury that American military officers were lying under oath...For these and many more reasons, it is not a victory for justice, by any stretch of the imagination. it was a farce of a trial; a racist verdict made possible by choreographed fear-mongering in Manhattan, around this and the other 9/11 trials. A truly...sad day for the rule of law. But we're used to that, by now.

A second person added: I agree...Legal formalaties were not completely fulfilled. Dr. Afia might be involved in any illegal activity but she was detained for years illegally. we should also condemn the silence of religious parties during their regime or during the Mush govt.

A third person adds: Yes, precisely. The whole point about having a law in the first place is that we cannot go by expediency but only by evidence and procedures have to be followed. If we want to send people to prison for reasons that cannot be proven in a court of law then, well, what are we talking about really?!

Before the trial, Elaine Sharp, one of the defense lawyers, mentioned that Dr. Aafia couldn't get a fair trial so close to the site of 911. Sure enough.

Perhaps it's the preferred choice of most of us to resist believing the worst-- especially about those we pay and trust to keep the law and handle crime. From my conversations with any number of able reporters and apt observers, I was astounded how difficult is was for most to imagine that so many prosecution witnesses could lie THAT much. Or these same were willing to consider this 100 pound woman a lier rather than to really believe that those in uniform here before us could torture, coerce, mislead or misrepresent or hurt Dr. Siddiqui or her children THAT much. As if any part of doing these things should be allowed by our nation - even to those who are the MOST guilty. Could it be that we all see ourselves in SOME part of person of Siddiqui's story and therefore we have to subconsciously only allow so much of the incongruity in to keep from admitting to ourselves that this could happen to us or we could under some circumstances do that?

Bringing in the context needed (rather than extraneous) to the trial would seem to require torture and how it's extrapulated falsely -like getting any possible alleged tip from a someone who'd been water-boarded over 150 times -and torturing Aafia by knowing that her children were key as with any mom - kidnapping and disappearing them - by her testimony showing her a picture of her child in pool of blood

Charles Krauthammer in his May 1 column "Torture when we must" contended that torture is acceptable if it is to save lives. This belief is very dangerous, especially to a democracy.

Torture does not extract information; it produces talk. The victim will say whatever seems to offer an end to the torture. Truth has nothing to do with it. Therefore, torture allows us to lie to ourselves and deceive ourselves and make fools of ourselves. The use of torture eliminates the validity of the testimony of the victim. Torture destroys any chance of getting the truth.

But torture can be used to get the testimony desired by the torturer to justify whatever course of action the torturer wants. Torture can be used to create conspiracies that do not exist and to convict the innocent of those nonexistent crimes. Torture is the tool of oppressive government. It has no function at all in gathering intelligence or in defending or protecting anyone. To justify torture on any grounds is a fundamental attack on democracy. Larry Mason, Chapel Hill

"In his closing argument", Joanne Mariner in her Wednesday article for Findlaw pointed out, "he prosecutor dismissed Siddiqui's references to torture and secret prisons, calling them "a classic diversion." The case "isn't about that," he insisted: It's about what happened in a police station in Ghazni, Afghanistan."

Which seems rather biased for a U. S. judge - to dismiss torture, threats, secret sites, kidnapping including her children - all dismissed while selectively bringing in the practically non-evidenced items "in the bag". They were illegible to the court at large -- these were not cross-examined nor considered within the permimeters of the charge. Yet the judge himself brought up the contents "in the bag" in a number of ways and times including right before the jury began their deliberations in his instructions. Although he use the word "alleged" even about these items and said they were not to sway the jury, he nevertheless continued this pattern which took place throughout the trial speaking of these items and allowing the prosecution to do so as well.

On the contrary, also posted on Wednesday AFTER the verdict begins the article with the following scary words without context apparently expecting the public to swallow all of it whole when the defense and those in the court didn't clearly see this evidence and only a vague blurred outline of something that could be considered any kind of evidence - wrote that "According to the Indictment filed in Manhattan federal court and evidence presented at trial: On July 17, 2008, SIDDIQUI was detained by Afghan authorities, who found a number of items in her possession, including handwritten notes that referred to a "mass casualty attack" and that listed various locations in the United States,including Plum Island, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Other notes in SIDDIQUI's possession referred to the construction of "dirty bombs," and discussed various ways to attack "enemies,"including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and using gliders..." even when there's been no discussion of possible ways she may have been tortured and coerced to have these items in her purse.

During cross-examination between Prosecution and Aafia, she claimed that she'd been asked to copy something out of a magazine and possibly to translate something under threat at this time if not another that unless she cooperated her daughter to be subject to rape and possibly even killed.

The entire story offered by the prosecution was simply unbelievable, as the defense pointed out. Then, if you want to know how they managed to draw out what was one charge into the scary sounding many here is is "Specifically, the jury convicted SIDDIQUI of the following crimes: (1) one count of attempting to kill U.S.
nationals outside the United States; (2) one count of attempting to kill U.S. officers and employees; (3) one count of armed assault of U.S. officers and employees; (4) one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and (5) three counts of assault of U.S. officers and
employees. (Now you tell me, how many ways can you say one thing and not sound ridiculous -- especially when there's no evidence of any of this in the first place?! and to add more smoke to this fake fire add what the Judge read in the jury's instructions -- the repeating for every single of the inflated versions of the ONE unproven charge like a chant the expansion that little Dr. Siddiqui resisted, assaulted, intimidated and so forth half a dozen or more armed muscled want to laugh outloud at the picture but it's beyond tragic.

And yet as the defense pointed out near the end of the trial:

"What exactly happened in that small room...300 sq feet...a small room...a very small room...?

No finger prints
No Residue
No Bullets
No Casing
No Bullet Debris
No Bullet Holes

You've got to ignore all that to convict Aafia Siddiqui...

It's sort of a Bermuda Triangle --

The most important witness has no dog in this fight...

This room tells you everything you need to know...

A very tense day - 150 to 200 Afghanis with their weapons outside

10 to 15 Afghan reps inside...

it was tense outside - it was tense inside...

Only the Chief Warrant Officer seems to have taken off his rifle...

It remained tense...but Chief Warrant Officer was the only one who removed his weapon...looked behind the curtain and didn't see anybody and sits down. He doesn't ask where she is...does that make sense? Gov't asks you to believe that within two minutes she seizes the weapon, turns off the safety (device) and squares off...
someone twice her size (the interpreter) who claimed she was tall--
if she shot 2 shots, 4 shots, 5 shots (as various reports would have it) and no one was killed - no injuries...? Remember Tobin said this is a high velocity bullet...

(There would be) all kinds of evidence...incomprehensible - impossible...

Things disintegrate, disappear, are lost in this room - you must explain away..."

Their are plenty of other reports rapidly stacking up from various places about our out of control contractors and soldiers even recently by corroborated reports of observers and family members that innocent people, right around Ghazni area and beyond are continuing to be slaughtered by our forces beyond all reason or accountability and that there are more secret sites found in the shadows of Afghanistan and elsewhere. What are they and the leaders thinking? That if enough of them do it, no one will find out? What is this disease? Is it from early childhood addiction to violent video games or something repressed and unhealed that is so explosive as to take it out on the most powerless?

Is this how we want to keep our nation and the innocent of the world safe?

Along with the attention Dr. Siddiqui's case in bringing between the US and Pakistan, the following article correctly brings up the attention that is being drawn to US relationship to Pakistan via the drones and contract groups like Blackwater - while still the article minimizes the actual horror of what blackwater and drones have been doing in the country and the likelihood of their not so noble intentions: Deaths Draw Focus to U.S. in Pakistan here

Some of the Blackwater - Xe Services report sounds like right out of the books for youth and young adults by our sadly misled pseudo-Christian Crusader types found at end of a Left Behind book in the library: "They moved through the terminal toward the parking garage, striding four abreast, arms around each other's shoulders, knit with a common purpose. Rayford Steele, Chloe Steele, Buck Williams, and Bruce Burns faced the gravest dangers anyone could face and they knew their mission - The task of the Tribulation Force was clear and their goal nothing less than to stand and fight the enemies of God during the seven most chaotic years the planet would ever see." Jerry B. Jenkins (guest on James Dobson often) Former Vice President for Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. (mentions co-writers and contributors) Well, didn't the originators of Blackwater boast a similar Crusader attitude?

Surely when Dr. Siddiqui said she smiled underneath her scarf at certain charges, she could be forgiven rather than chastised because this charge is "no laughing matter" by Lady Prosecution. After all, it's Aafia that had the grace to say that the people who treated her badly were "fake Americans". Or we should smile sardonically along with Aafia and chastise a little back. After all, there's so little humor in this story and surely we too can see some of the irony in what in this case looks like a big bully against a 100 pound woman. Like one astute observer said, like a female David against Goliath.

Why isn't it our own Pentagon/Gov't which is selling rather randomly the most small arms of any other country to who knows who all around the world? A these same national representatives are claiming this trial is about keeping us safe?

And here we are in lower manhatten where near the courthouse immigrants have been recently discovered to be tortured. Or is this an ongoing report? And here so close to that torture is this noble building based on law where our government all week long was using such language about a little lady doctor's assumed crimes that sometimes you'd think this could be any one of us at any time. Like Chris Hedges said recently that someday, if this keeps up, "we'll all be terrorists".

Here in this court this week in USA vs. Aafia Siddiqui, in what is supposed to be the most powerful country in the world , the USA sought with all sorts of smoke rather than actual fire trying to overwhelm - picking on someone anything but the same size. Seems to me the gov't has been staking a bet on the "suspension of disbelief" to overwhelm a 100 pound lady and the jurors and quite a few of the US journalists too.

And now she's returned to a holding area near the US Federal Court in Lower Manhattan where she other detainees are held in extreme isolation and cut off from family and friends. I met some of the distressingly sad near defeated parents who's sons are there as well. They were brave enough to support Aafia during the trial and like nearly everyone else, they joined us in signing their names and giving their ID info each time they entered court. We've asked but still haven't been told how long the US Marshalls are holding these lists and what they are planning to do with them.

By the way, professional actors and actresses come to hold regular vigils and programs protesting such treatment in front of those buildings.

Rephrasing the language of Judge Berman, I ask YOU the reader -- especially you who are citizens in a nation which is known to boast of a democracy:

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, before you are too quick to lay judgement upon this case, make sure you take a good look at all the major discussions and issues and ask yourself:

"What in your reading, reflection or study of this trial is fire and what is just smoke? What is hot and what is cold? As you run toward what you see as fire, duck underneath the smoke and see what you see in the ashes? Ask if any of these ashes might be our constitution and our democracy. And if so what are YOU going to do?

What are we all going to do together, Pakistanis and Americans about our democracies? Maybe they are a dying institution. Maybe not. Can we leave this priceless foundation of our nations to the caprice of our leaders who are given license to kill whom ever they wish? They, along with their most obliging, cooperative crusader cowboys and drone operators who chalk up 60-90% civilian deaths as collateral damage - who run wild around Ghazni, Afghanistan and sneak around Pakistan out of control? Or isn't this government by the people and for the people up to us?

So in that frame of mind, I want to close on a note of sanity and resolution. Let's go to Khurram Ali Shafique in "Aafia Convicted: The Value of a Human Life" The foundation for this newest version is a partial take-off on "Don't Blame The Victim" by the same author in his site: aboutaafia dot com:

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Aafia convicted: the value of a human life

Dr. Aaafia Siddiqui has been convicted...If the decision is not reversed in the appeal, Pakistan loses a human being but AMERICA LOSES THE VALUE OF A HUMAN BEING. For one the pain would be greater and for the other, the loss.

On forums like Facebook, it is being declared a sad day. In Pakistan, the day has not arisen as yet. Let's hope that it is a peaceful day and the nation lives up to the ideal of abiding by the law, given to it by its founding father. Perhaps it would help to understand the reason of what hurts in this case...perhaps a better understanding will be in the interest of everyone, and here is a recap of points elaborated in the report Don't Blame the Victim, released from People's Resistance forum in late 2008 (see sidebar at aboutaafia dot com).

The basic stance was that in this case, a victim had been turned into the accused. There was not one allegation but four, and it may have been better if they had been addressed in the order in which they had appeared:

First allegation was brought against Aafia, long, long, long ago by US authorities that she had links with Al-Qaeda. This was never pursued by the US authorities.

Second allegation was by international human rights group, prior to July 17, 2008, that Aafia was being held in secret prison, was unlawfully abducted and sexually tortured, and that her children had been abducted. This needed to be addressed before moving on. This allegation was against the US and allied authorities, and the most serious of all because two of those children are still missing, and could be dead.

Third allegation was by US authorities that on July 17, 2008, Aafia was found to be in possession of some objectionable and dangerous material. This was, again, not brought up, so it can be dropped. But it was a counter-allegation by the "accused", which in this case was US authorities (and Afghan and Pakistani authorities too - I do not want to sound as if I am ignoring their alleged role in this matter, but since US authorities ended up having custody of the victim, the focus naturally shifts to them)

The fourth allegation was by US authorities that she fired at some US soldiers, etc. while she was being interrogated, after her alleged arrest in the event of #3. This is the only allegation on which Aafia has been tried. See, where it comes in the order?

There should be no violence. Rather, there should not even be the thought of violence. The way to avoid violent thoughts is to understand where we stand and to focus on the moral victories we have won recently...we too have set some golden precedents for the 21st Century: just last year the people of Pakistan won a heroic struggle for the restoration of judiciary. We may have made mistakes in the past but this is a new century and we seem to have arrived here before many others. Let's keep peace for the sake of living up to our better traditions, and leaving behind our worst...

Posted from Pakistan by Khurram Ali Shafique an historian, biographer and teacher

(Condensed slightly for space by oneheart...blogger. Please go the original as possible)

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